Buying a computer system/Which Laptop

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Question
What type of laptop would you recommend (that runs windows) for 2D animation using flash professional and 3D using maya? I was considering Alienware but I'm not sure.

I also do java and c++ Programming so a laptop that can handle the compiler for Java would also be helpful.

I'm just starting college so I'm not sure where to start.

Answer
The programming component is not overly demanding - running an IDE like NetBeans or JDeveloper won't be anything dramatic for modern hardware to accomplish. The biggest demand will be the 3D suite from Autodesk - which ideally requires verified hardware for good performance. This immediately excludes "gaming" equipment, such as Alienware. Generally nVidia's Quadro is a better choice for Autodesk, but AMD's FirePro is not unsuitable (both are approved solutions, but Quadro tends to realize higher performance).

Look at Dell's Mobile Precision line instead - they will come with the appropriate hardware for the kind of work you're looking to do. Additionally, you may consider a Precision workstation ("desktop" or "deskside" machines), which should offer you a better price/performance balance. While this isn't a mobile solution, it's a generally better idea for high performance rendering, unless mobility is an absolute requirement (e.g. you need the equipment for in-field work). A less expensive laptop which is better geared for mobility (e.g. a netbook or ultrabook) would be a better choice for note-taking or other school activities (as it will weigh less and have better battery run-time).

Finally, as you mention being a new student, I'd additionally suggest you contact your institution regarding what kind of hardware they suggest for new students, as well as what kind of equipment they may provide for students. For example, your institution may have workstations available for students to use for rendering, which may be a better option as a new student or in terms of saving money (for example, a "high end" workstation can cost $50,000 or more; and will be more robust than any mobile solution).

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

-bob

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Bobbert

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

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I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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15+ years of experience

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